Some Biogeographers, Evolutionists and Ecologists:
Chrono-Biographical Sketches

Fernald, Merritt Lyndon (United States 1873-1950)
botany, paleobotany, phytogeography

Fernald spent just about his entire adult life connected with Harvard University, first as a student, then as a professor and as a curator and director of the Gray Herbarium. He became the leading expert on the vascular plants of eastern Canada and the northeastern United States, and his extensive fieldwork in these areas led him to develop theories regarding the evolution of their floras, especially as during Pleistocene times. Among these were particularly extensive workings-out of the nunatak hypothesis and other aspects of the vegetation of unglaciated areas. Fernald was connected with the journal Rhodora for over fifty years, first as an associate editor, and then as editor. In all he published some nine hundred works.

Life Chronology

--born in Orono, Maine, on 5 October 1873.
--1889-1890: attends Maine State College
--1890: publishes a paper on two species of Carex
--1891: enters the Lawrence Scientific School of Harvard University; made a botanical assistant there
--1891-1935: works as an assistant in the Gray Herbarium, Harvard
--1897: B.S., magna cum laude, Harvard
--1899-1928: associate editor, Rhodora
--1902: made instructor of botany at Harvard
--1908: edits and publishes the seventh edition of Gray's Manual of Botany, with B. L. Robinson
--1911-1914: president, New England Botanical Club
--1915: made Fisher Professor of Natural History, Harvard
--1925: publishes "Persistence of Plants in Unglaciated Areas of Boreal America" in the Memoirs of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences
--1929-1950: editor, Rhodora
--1933: honorary Ph.D., Acadia University
--1935-1937: curator, Gray Herbarium
--1937-1947: director, Gray Herbarium
--1938: president, American Society of Plant Taxonomists
--1940: receives the Leidy gold medal of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia
--1941: vice president, botany section, American Association for the Advancement of Science
--1942: president, Botanical Society of America
--1943: publishes his Edible Wild Plants of Eastern North America, with A. C. Kinsey
--1947: made Fisher Professor Emeritus, Harvard
--1950: receives the Marie-Victorin medal for services to botany in Canada
--1950: edits and publishes the eighth edition of Gray's Manual of Botany
--dies at Cambridge, Massachusetts, on 22 September 1950.

For Additional Information, See:

--Biographical Memoirs, National Academy of Sciences (U.S.A.), Vol. 28 (1954).
--American National Biography, Vol. 7 (1999).
--National Cyclopaedia of American Biography, Vol. 38 (1953).
--Dictionary of Scientific Biography, Vol. 4 (1971).
--Biographical Dictionary of American and Canadian Naturalists and Environmentalists (1997).
--Northeastern Naturalist, Vol. 4(4) (1997): 293-300.
--Annals of the Association of American Geographers, Vol. 40(4) (1950): 354-355.
--Bulletin of the Torrey Botanical Club, Vol. 78(3) (1951): 270-272.

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Copyright 2005 by Charles H. Smith. All rights reserved.

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